Friday, June 22, 2018

Mexican Risotto

In recognition of Hunger Awareness Month, I wanted to make a dish out of cheap, shelf stable ingredients. This is a slight modification of a dish I've made many times now and that I have dubbed Mexican Risotto. You can either serve this dish as a main dish, it's got plenty of protein, or a great side dish.

Ingredients:

1.5 tbsp taco seasoning
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
¼ C canned pickled jalapenos
¾ C arborio rice

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, pour in all the ingredients and stir to combine. Don't drain the beans and corn, you are going to need that liquid to cook the rice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, or until the rice is cooked and tender. Serve.

If you can, some great additions are: chopped onion, chorizo, monterey jack cheese, sour cream, and/or crema. Alternatively, you could always stir in some chopped or shredded chicken and a dash of your favorite hot sauce.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Traditional Shortbread Cookies

I love The Great British Bake-Off, I just really wish they would put more seasons on Netflix. Watching that show inspired me to start doing some more baking, and I thought I would start with a pretty simple and traditional English biscuit, traditional shortbread.

Shortbread is traditionally build off a 1:2:3 ratio, 1 of sugar, 2 of butter, and 3 of flour. I've stuck to that traditional ratio here but added a little almond extract since it is my favorite shortbread flavor.

Ingredients:

2 oz (by weight) sugar
4 oz (by weight) softened butter
6 of (be weight) AP flour
¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300

Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth then slowly add the flour in until a batter is formed. Chill the batter for 30 minutes before rolling out to a ¼ inch or 1 cm thick sheet. Cut into small rounds and bake for 30-45 minutes or until lightly golden and crisp. Let the cookies cool completely before serving or they won't have the satisfying snap that any good English style biscuit should.

Feel free to fancy them up by dipping in melted chocolate or caramel.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Lamb Meatballs

I did not make shepherd's pie for St. Patrick's Day, so I ended up with a pound of lamb mince (that's British for ground) in my fridge. I felt like doing something completely different with it and made these greek inspired lamb meatballs.

Ingredients:

1/2 C unseasoned bread crumbs
2 sprigs thyme leaves
1 sprig of rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 oz shredded pecorino romano cheese
1/2 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
1lb of ground lamb

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine everything except the lamb in the carafe of your blender or food processor, and blend into a fine powder. Thoroughly mix your seasoning powder into the lamb and form the mixture into 1.5 inch or golf ball sized meatballs.

Space the meatballs out about an inch apart on a greased baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes or until the meatballs reach and internal temp of 160.

I recommend serving with fettuccine, wilted baby spinach, shredded pecorino romano, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh ground black pepper. Pro tip: after I drained the pasta, I quickly added the olive oil and spinach. The olive oil kept the pasta from sticking and the residual heat wilted the spinach perfectly.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Far Cry 5 Montana Burger

Far Cry 5 came out recently, and to celebrate this great game, I decided to create my Montana Burger. What is Montana known for? Game burgers! This bison burger is packed with sweet and savory umami flavor and is excellent paired with my maple glazed bacon.

Ingredients:

2 large white onions
½ C demerara or light brown sugar
1 lb ground bison
2 tsp salt (divided)
2 tbsp oil (divided)
¼ C ketchup
2 tbsp maple syrup
sesame seed bun
mayo
maple glazed bacon
cheddar cheese

Directions:

Slice the onions into medium slices. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a saute pan over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onions and 1 tbsp of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions have significantly darkened, about 10-15 minutes. Once the onions have reached the level of brown that you like for sauteed onions, turn the heat off and add the sugar. Stir constantly and allow the reserved heat to caramelize the sugar onto the onions. Remove from the pan so they do not burn.

While the onions are cooking, form the ground bison into 4 patties and lightly salt each with a ¼ tsp of salt. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet until the oil is shimmering. Sear the burgers, about 3-5 minutes on each side, until an instant read thermometer reads 155 internal or until juices run clear. Let the burgers rest for 5 minutes.

Mix together the ketchup and maple syrup and, once the burgers are rested, brush the glaze onto the paties.

To serve, I toasted my sesame seed buns on one side under the broiler with a thick slice of cheddar cheese on the top slice. I then put a thin spread of mayo on the bottom, and added 4 half slices of my maple bacon, topped with a generous heap of caramelized onions, the glazed patty, and then the top bun with the melted cheese. And, since Far Cry 5 is a bit of  a violent game, I finished the whole thing off by stabbing it with a steak knife.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

I really love Indian food, I've been on a bit of a curry kick recently and this one has always been my favorite. One of the problems I have with making Indian food is that, depending on how stocked your spice cabinet and fridge are, it can cost more per plate than take-out. Especially because many curry recipes call for higher quality cuts of meat which usually dry up in a long simmer, tend to be more mild in flavor and so get lost in the heavy spices, and really are not in the spirit of a good curry which would use every part of an animal possible for the dish.

I wanted to solve some of these problems by making a recipe that mostly relies on dried herbs and powders. While fresh is preferable, it can be harder to find, depending on your local grocer and the season, and having the dried version on hand can make this a much easier recipe to make without having to plan a separate shopping trip. Also, I don't tend to cook Indian flavors every day, so when I buy fresh, some ingredients can go to waste.

Ingredients:

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 C whole milk yogurt*
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp ghee or butter
1 small onion, diced
½ C tomato paste
2 tsp cardamom powder
½ tsp red pepper flakes
14.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 C heavy cream
¾ C fresh cilantro, chopped (plus some sprigs for garnish)

Directions:

Mix together the garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and cumin together in a bowl. Stir half that mixture, 2 tbsps, into the yogurt. Pour the marinade into a zip top bag, add the chicken thighs, and smosh around to make sure you have even coverage on the chicken. Place in the fridge and let marinate for 4-6 hrs.

In a large, heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven, melt the ghee over medium heat and add the onion, tomato paste, cadmium, and red pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the tomato starts to brown. Stir in the remaining half of your spice mixture and fry them, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes, or until they are browned, but not burnt. Your kitchen should smell amazing by now.

Add the can of tomatoes, with the juice. Use a potato masher to break them up into smaller chunks. Bring to a simmer and and stir, making sure you are scraping and browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Those bits are the most flavorful bits and you don't want to leave them behind. Once you have a simmer going, pour in the cream, and add the chopped cilantro. Bring it back up to a simmer and stir occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 20-30 minutes, depending on how you like it.

While the sauce reduces, preheat your broiler on high. Place the marinated chicken thighs on a cooling rack placed on a foil lined baking sheet. Broil the chicken on high for 10 minutes, or until the some areas on the chicken start to blacken.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, it won't be cooked all the way through yet. Add to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with rice and fresh cilantro sprigs.

Friday, March 16, 2018

St Patrick's Day

Tomorrow is the day when Americans dress in too much green, put on some ridiculous hats, and get really drunk. Fortunately it's on a Saturday this year so we can all take some time to recover tomorrow.

As Americans, we never pass up an opportunity to use another culture's celebration as an excuse to day drink.

A certain burger chain has a seasonal beverage that looks the part, but does not help with the whole getting drunk part of St. Patrick's Day. To that end, if you are a responsible adult, I present my solution, The Viking Chef's St. Patty's Day Shake!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pancakes

Everyone loves buttermilk pancakes, but I don't know many people that just keep buttermilk around all the time. Sometimes your wife wakes you up in the morning and is having bad week and wants pancakes and you don't want her to wait while you go shopping. In such cases, it's a good idea to have a simple recipe in your pocket that relies on more basic kitchen essentials. Well, I am here to provide!

Ingredients:

2 C flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1.5 C milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 eggs

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt before adding in the milk, melted butter, and eggs. Whisk it all together until it is mostly smooth but there are still a few lumps. If you work it until it is completely smooth, the pancakes won't rise as well.

Let the batter sit while you heat up and grease up a cast iron skillet until water droplets splashed on it skitter before evaporating entirely.

Ladle on a ladle full of batter and cook until the edges are done and bubbles in the middle burst without filling immediately. Flip and brown for an additional 30 seconds to a minute.

Store in a warm oven until ready to serve to a grateful world.

Makes 6-7 big pancakes

Note: In the picture above are whole wheat pancakes which use the same parts list just with whole wheat and an additional .25 cup of milk. I accidentally bought whole wheat flour for my second go around and just had to wing it a little.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Legend Of Zelda's Monster Curry

It is no secret that I love videogames. I've been a huge Nintendo fan since a friend of mine brought his Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask strategy guide to play practise when I was 10. I've been in love with that kind of storytelling ever since. Last year the amazing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out and included a fun cooking mini game. This presented me with a great opportunity to combine 2 of my great loves, videogames and food.

This dish might look pretty funky, but trust me, it's really good. This is not a spicy curry, in fact it has a slight sweetness from the sweet potatoes, and it it really easy to make. Sweet potatoes and red onion have plenty of great flavor so you don't have to break open all your spice jars to make this dish taste amazing.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp ghee or butter
1 tsp salt
¾ lb purple sweet potatoes, cleaned and diced
½ red onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
2 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp white pepper
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
blue food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Melt the ghee in a large saute pan and add the potatoes and salt. Saute for 3 minutes before adding the red onion. Cook, stirring often, until the potato is tender, about 3-5 more minutes. Add the ground beef and brown until thoroughly cooked.

Add the spices and lightly fry them until they are highly aromatic. Stir in a can of diced tomatoes until combined and saute for another 2 minutes before serving with rice.

At this point, the dish looks pretty purple, but to get it looking really monstrous, you might want to add some blue food coloring before serving. Just a couple drops should do the trick.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wedding Pasta

In all honesty, I'm a little embarrassed I haven't made this before. It's a recreation of the pasta dish my wife and I had at our wedding. This is what I made for Valentine's Day this year. I would not have thought of it if Laura hadn't ordered a pasta dish from a restaurant near us that was strikingly similar.

One of the things I love about this recipe is that you can really do almost all the parts simultaneously. The chicken takes a while to cook, so you can start that, boil the pasta, then make the sauce, and the chicken should be done and rested by the time you're done. Obviously, how long it takes you is going to depend on your skill level and how much you have prepped ahead of time, but I think this is a good dish to use if you want to practice how to finish a meal all at the same time.

I can't believe that it has taken me over 4 years to recreate our wedding night entree. Well, here it is now, and it's pretty damn good.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp of oil
¾ tsp of salt, divided
1 lb of bowtie pasta
2 tbsp of butter
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp of flour
4 C heavy cream
1 C shredded parmesan
½ C sundried tomatoes
¼ tsp black pepper

Directions:

Heat a cast iron grill pan on medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes to make sure the heat is even. If you don't have one, a griddle or skillet will work just fine. Coat the chicken breasts with oil and sprinkle with ¼ tsp of salt. Cook for about 12 minutes per side, or until an inserted thermometer reads 160° F. Let the chicken rest while you prepare the rest of the dish.

In a large stock pot, boil and salt 1 gallon of water and cook the bowtie pasta until al dente, about 9 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly toasted. Add the flour and stir constantly until the butter is all soaked up and the mixture has taken on a golden brown hue.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly pour on the heavy cream, whisking constantly until the flour mixture is all worked in. Sprinkle on the remaining ½ tsp of salt and add the shredded parmesan. Stir in the cooked bowtie pasta, cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces, and add it along with the sun dried tomatoes. Season with black pepper and serve with a semi-dry riesling.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Layer Dip

No Super Bowl party is complete without good dips! Layer dips are a classic part of any party for the big game, and they are quick and cheap to make if you need a last minute addition to your game day menu.

Ingredients:

1.5 C guacamole (you're in a hurry, store bought will work fine)
1 16 oz can refried black or pinto beans
½ C sour cream
¾ C shredded cheddar cheese
¾ C shredded monterey jack cheese
¼ tsp cumin

Directions:

In a 1.5 qt casserole, if you have a clear one this will look much more impressive, layer the guacamole, the refried beans, and the sour cream. In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cheeses together with the cumin (this can be substituted with a store bought taco cheese blend) before adding as the final layer. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy! (Told you that was fast!)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Super Bowl Party!

We are only one week away from game time, and it can be pretty stressful to put together a great Super Bowl Party. I've gathered together a list of my favorite recipes to serve on the day of the big game. Hopefully these will give you some ideas on how to make your Super Bowl Party a great night, no matter who wins.

Finger Foods:

Grilled Ham and Pineapple Skewers
Deviled Eggs with Crab
Pigs in a Blanket
Barbecue Meatballs
Meatballs
Sausage Rolls
Tortilla Chips
Pot Stickers

Dips:

Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip
Guacamole
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Pico de Gallo
Black Bean Salsa

Sides:

Nachos
Root Beer Pulled Pork Sliders
Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders
Bacon Wrapped Cheddar Dogs
Corn Dogs
Caprese Salad

Cocktails:

Fruit Punch Beer
Scotch Sour
Maple Old Fashioned

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cheese Steak

So, today is the big game! The Eagles have their big chance to finally get to another Super Bowl, and maybe win this time! Now, I'm a Ravens fan, so it is not that important to me, but since I am living near Philly, I might as well root for the current home team. To that end, I'm offering my take on that most classic Philadelphia sandwich, the cheese steak.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 tbsp oil
½ medium onion, sliced
½ lb white mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp salt
.6 lb top round steak, thinly sliced into ribbons
4 slices provolone cheese
2 sub rolls
Mayonnaise
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Sweet peppers

Directions:

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions, mushrooms, and salt. Saute the onions and mushrooms, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown and shrunk to about half original size. Add the steak and cook until just cooked through before removing from the heat.

Divide the meat and veggie mixture in half and put two slices of provolone cheese on each. Let the residual heat in the pan and in the food melt the cheese.

Now comes the discussion of toppings. I like mayo, lettuce, and sweet peppers on my steak sandwich, so I take a lightly toasted sub roll and add a thin layer of mayo (toasting and using mayo help keep the roll from getting soggy), a handful of lettuce, and a few sweet peppers before placing the cheesy beef, mushroom, and onion mix on the roll. Feel free to add tomatoes, banana peppers, or whatever you like. I'm from Baltimore, I'm not here to judge your cheese steak game!